In a serendipity manner the other day my cardiologist got around to telling me that there is a problem with my heart… again.
I protested that that was impossible… I mean, I divorced that problem. She’s gone. Cost me everything. Only remnant the wicked-witch-of-the-West left behind was a jock strap inscribed: After 15 years all Stephanie left me was the other guy’s jock strap; it makes me feel big!
I even offered to pay her “smaller” husband — to keep her.
Hey, I declared, to my Doc, Fania Samuels, it was a successful exorcism.
Fania kind of sighed and laughed. We’ve known one another for nearly 25 years, before and after Stephanie stole from all of us.
Fania explained that a small part of my heart is not getting blood when I exercise.
Hmm…I said. It must be Yasmine.
Yeah, my Haitian sensation. When I think of her all my blood rushes to the head of the class. And you know us men, I shrugged. Our blood can’t be at the head of two classes – at the same time. Ask Lou. He’ll support me.
Lou is her husband, my heart surgeon. He craftily bypassed my blood pumper with at least four new on-ramps after my thumper had already snapped and snarled. There was little more than strewn electrical lines burping in the wake of Godzilla. Actually my future was suddenly more a mystery than that missing Malaysian airplane.
Lou is a superstar with a great sense of humor. And voluptuous Fania has a couple of great things, too. Which is why when I bump into the Samuels on the street from time to time I practical dismiss Lou and corral Fania.
“You know, Drew,” Lou likes to remind me. “I’m the one who saved you.”
“Yeah,…yeah…yeah…big deal…and now I’m saving my best for Fania.”
Anyway, I am the only American Fania knows who’s ever been to her native Siberian town near Tyumen. So we all get along well, even though it was Fania who got me to give up drinking — mostly. She also wanted me to give up cigar smoking…
“You’ll live longer,” Dr. Samuels proclaimed.
“You don’t actually live longer,” I scoffed. “Without bourbon AND cigars it only seems longer.”
Now more than 10 years after Lou paved my new circulation Fania is sitting across from me in her office in Northeast Philadelphia’s heavily Russian immigrant community — sort of like New York City’s Brighton Beach.
She was speaking words I really didn’t want to hear. That my stress test showed something just like all the stress in Moscow and Kiev finally revealed – that you don’t know what people are really like until they are under a lot of stress. And stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness.
The room got real quiet as Dr. Samuels asked me if I had been having any heart pain?
“I already told you: Yasmine.”
Shortness of breath?
“Only after sex… And I gotta tell you doc, that increase dosage in my cholesterol pills is killing my sex life.”
We’ll fix that, she said
“We will?” I smiled. “You going to run off with me and join the circus?”
You know I love my husband.
“I am only talking about the weekend. Anybody who tells you they love you for longer than the weekend is lying. Look at Stephanie Ann Middleton.”
“That’s Stephanie’s latest game-name. She re-upped with another future ex…”
Fania tried to smother a disparaging laugh. At that we looked not so much at each other, but at what each other was supposed to be talking about. But we couldn’t. So we just fell into good-hearted mirth.
It ain’t easy hearing that your heart isn’t all that romantic, but just another rapacious organ demanding all the blood you can jam down its voracious throat. But laughing makes everything easier. Somebody, probably my dear ol’ bourbon sippin’ Pappy, once said:
I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints…